3 types of finance job interviews
Posted at 18/08/2022
Our recruitment professionals at Fed Finance describe the three main types of interview you could encounter. Mastering how to succeed in these will give you an edge over your competitors.
Individual job interview
When we hear "job interview", we often think of a face-to-face interview, between a candidate (i.e. you) and a recruiter (i.e. the company you are applying to). However, it is important to know that that’s not the only form of individual interview.
The face-to-face interview is probably the most common type of interview. Recruiters enjoy meeting candidates in person to evaluate how they interact and think on the spot.
This type of interview usually takes place in a meeting room of varying size within the recruiting company. It could alternatively happen in a neutral place such as a restaurant. The candidate is alone with the recruiter who may be a representative of the human resources department, an operations manager, or the future manager.
There are a few different ways that a face-to-face interview could be structured:
Directive: The recruiter asks questions, and you answer them one after the other.
Semi-directive: The recruiter asks a mixture of open and closed questions about you and your background.
Non-directive: An informal chat between you and the recruiter.
More and more often, due to health and safety reasons and geographical limitations, job interviews are conducted remotely, either via phone or video call. It is important to be prepared for this possibility.
This is probably the least stressful job interview because it does not require eye contact between the recruiter and the candidate. You can even read your notes without it being noticeable. You just need to focus on sounding as natural as possible.
Pay particular attention to the sound of your voice, the speed of your delivery and your articulation. Although it seems like an easy exercise, phone interviews are one of the most difficult interviews to pass.
More common than phone interviews, particularly within the finance sector, video interviews follow the same procedure as face-to-face interviews. It’s important to present yourself well and ensure beforehand that your devices are working properly, and your background is appropriate.
It is possible that your video interview isn’t conducted live. In this case, the company would provide you with a list of questions and you record yourself answering them. However, this rarely happens for finance jobs as it’s not a very natural recruitment method. The advantage of this type of interview is that you can start over if you are not satisfied with your answers.
Finance job interviews can also be conducted in a group setting. There are several ways that group interviews may be organized.
A panel interview is a type of group interview where there’s one candidate and three or four recruiters, from different areas of the company. Depending on the job demands, you could be faced with several panels and be in front of up to 50 people.
Panel interviews are known to be particularly stressful and demanding. Candidates are usually given a series of rapid-fire questions. Learning to perform well under pressure during an interview is key to avoiding intimidation and remaining yourself. Also, bear in mind that a panel comes to a decision very quickly following a job interview. There are usually a few clear signs that show whether you passed the interview. If in doubt, be contactable in the days that follow.
Group of candidates
Some businesses like to interview groups of candidates at the same time. This may be because of financial reasons or simply to see how candidates interact in a social setting.
During a group interview, you are usually set a task to solve as a group through sharing your ideas. Your analytical thinking, listening, production and negotiation skills will be examined by the recruiters. Don't hesitate to express your point of view, to speak up, to respect everyone's opinion and to seek ideas from those who are more withdrawn. Your approach and behaviour are more important than the end solution that your group comes up with.
Alternative job interviews
Do you think that a CV and a cover letter alone are enough to convince a company to hire you? Far from it! In fact, sending these documents is just the first step of the process.
In this type of interview, whether individual or group, the focus is on a particular context. The recruiter asks you several questions related to a specific context or situation that you would encounter in your future position. They then analyze your response, your thought process and your imagination.
Situational interviews are an excellent exercise for both recruiters and candidates. They allow prospective employees to gain a real insight into the job they have applied for and to retract their application if they feel that it no longer suits them.
More and more companies are using personality tests prior to face-to-face or remote interviews. The objective of this test is to evaluate the candidate's personality by collecting answers to hypothetical questions.
Of course, these tests alone are not enough to define the candidate's character, but they do complement the interview. They can even be used as a thread in the interview to discuss a particular answer. They also test your critical thinking. If you answer A in a personality test, you are supposed to answer A in the interview.
Competence and aptitude tests
Skills tests are particularly common in the finance, accounting and payroll sectors. They contain various logical, literacy, geometrical and mathematical problems. The onus is on the candidate to answer as many problems as they can within a given time frame. While speed counts, it is not mandatory to have answered all the questions. The number of correct answers counts more than the number of answers provided.
We advise you to consult the many tests available online to practice as much as possible before your interview.
The case interview is a rigorous exercise in which the recruiter confronts the candidate with a concrete problem and studies sees how they deal with it. The recruiter is looking to test your skills, knowledge, and logic.
There is often no right or wrong answer to the case. The recruiter will pay much more attention to your reasoning, questions, ability to argue and your analytical mind than to your solution to the case.
Fed Finance: interview guidance
To be prepared for all these job interviews, you need to be aware of their different focus points and consider them from the recruiter’s perspective. Being well-prepared gives you a head start on other candidates.
Would you like more advice on how to prepare for your job interview? At Fed Finance, we help candidates in the finance and accounting industry to ace their job interviews. Contact us today to find out all our job interview tips and benefit from our expert employment advice.